Last updated

Djedefre (also known as Djedefra and Greek : ΡετζεντέφRadjedef) was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the 4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom. He is well known by the Hellenized form of his name Ratoises (by Manetho). Djedefre was the son and immediate throne successor of Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza; his mother is not known for certain. He is the king who introduced the royal title Sa-Rê (meaning “Son of Ra”) and the first to connect his cartouche name with the sun god Ra.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.



Statue of Setka inscribed with his name and titles, Musee du Louvre. Setka.jpg
Statue of Setka inscribed with his name and titles, Musée du Louvre.

Djedefre married his brother Kawab's widow, Hetepheres II, who was sister to both of them, and who perhaps married a third brother of theirs, Khafre, after Djedefre's death. [4] Another queen, Khentetenka is known from statue fragments in the Abu Rowash mortuary temple. [5] Known children of Djedefre are:

Kawab ancient Egyptian prince and vizier

Kawab is the name of an ancient Egyptian prince of the 4th Dynasty. He was the eldest son of King Khufu and Queen Meritites I. Kawab served as vizier and was buried in the double mastaba G 7110 - 7120 in the east field which is part of the Giza Necropolis.

Hetepheres II Ancient Egyptian queen consort

Hetepheres II was a Queen of Ancient Egypt during the 4th dynasty.

Baka is the name of an ancient Egyptian prince. He is known for his destroyed statuette. He is also subject of a theory that claims he was pharaoh of Egypt for a very short time. Thus, he might be identical to a scarcely known king named Bikheris.

Setka (prince) Prince of the 4th Dynasty of Egypt

Setka is the name of an ancient Egyptian crown prince. He is known for his statuette in the shape of a seated scribe. He is also subject of a theory that claims he was pharaoh of Egypt for a very short time.

Neferhetepes ancient Egyptian princess

Neferhetepes was an ancient Egyptian princess of the 4th Dynasty; a daughter of Pharaoh Djedefre who ruled between his father Khufu and his brother Khafra. Her mother was Hetepheres II.

The French excavation team led by Michel Vallogia found the names of two other possible children of Djedefre in the pyramid complex:


Cartouche name of Djedefre in the Abydos-List - name variant here written Ra-Djed-Ef Abydos KL 04-03 n22.jpg
Cartouche name of Djedefre in the Abydos-List - name variant here written Ra-Djed-Ef
Red granite head of Djedefre, Musee du Louvre. Djedefra wearing the crown of Lower Egypt-E 11167-IMG 9702-gradient.jpg
Red granite head of Djedefre, Musée du Louvre.

The Turin King List credits him with a rule of eight years, but the highest known year referred to during this reign appears to be the year of his 11th cattle count. The anonymous year of the 11th count date presumably of Djedefre was found written on the underside of one of the massive roofing-block beams which covered Khufu's southern boat-pits by Egyptian work crews. [9] Miroslav Verner notes that in the work crew's mason marks and inscriptions, "either Djedefra's throne name or his Golden Horus name occur exclusively." [10] Verner writes that the current academic opinion regarding the attribution of this date to Djedefre is disputed among Egyptologists: Rainer Stadelman, Vassil Dobrev, Peter Janosi favour dating it to Djedefre whereas Wolfgang Helck, Anthony Spalinger, Jean Vercoutter and W.S. Smith attribute this date to Khufu instead on the assumption "that the ceiling block with the date had been brought to the building site of the boat pit already in Khufu's time and placed in position [only] as late as during the burial of the funerary boat in Djedefre's time." [10]

Turin King List ancient Egyptian manuscript

The Turin King List, also known as the Turin Royal Canon, is an ancient Egyptian hieratic papyrus thought to date from the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II, now in the Museo Egizio in Turin. The papyrus is the most extensive list available of kings compiled by the ancient Egyptians, and is the basis for most chronology before the reign of Ramesses II.

Miroslav Verner Czech egyptologist and university educator

Miroslav Verner is a Czech egyptologist, who specializes in the history and archaeology of Ancient Egypt of the Old Kingdom and especially of the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.

The German scholar Dieter Arnold, in a 1981 MDAIK paper noted that the marks and inscriptions of the blocks from Khufu's boat pit seem to form a coherent collection relating to the different stages of the same building project realised by Djedefre's crews. [11] Verner stresses that such marks and inscriptions usually pertained to the breaking of the blocks in the quarry, their transportation, their storage and manipulation in the building site itself.: [12] "In this context, the attribution of just a single inscription—and what is more, the only one with a date—on all the blocks from the boat pit to somebody other than Djedefra does not seem very plausible." [13]

Verner also notes that the French-Swiss team excavating Djedefre's pyramid have discovered that this king's pyramid was really finished in his reign. According to Vallogia, Djedefre's pyramid largely made use of a natural rock promontory which represented circa 45% of its core; the side of the pyramid was 200 cubits long and its height was 125 cubits. [14] The original volume of the monument of Djedefre, hence, approximately equalled that of Menkaura's own pyramid. [15] Therefore, the argument that Djedefre enjoyed a short reign because his pyramid was unfinished is somewhat discredited. [16] This means that Djedefre likely ruled Egypt for a minimum of 11 years if the cattle count was annual, or 22 years if it was biennial; Verner, himself, supports the shorter, 11-year figure and notes that "the relatively few monuments and records left by Djedefra do not seem to favour a very long reign" for this king. [16]

Pyramid complex

The ruined pyramid of Djedefre at Abu Rawash Abu Rawash Pyramid.jpg
The ruined pyramid of Djedefre at Abu Rawash

Djedefre continued the move north in the location of pyramids by building his (now ruined) pyramid at Abu Rawash, some 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) to the north of Giza. It is the northernmost part of the Memphite necropolis.

While Egyptologists previously assumed that his pyramid at this heavily denuded site was unfinished upon his death, more recent excavations from 1995 to 2005 have established that it was indeed completed. [17] The most recent evidence indicates that its current state is the result of extensive plundering in later periods while "the king's statues [were] smashed as late as the 2nd century AD." [17]

Some believe that the sphinx of his wife, Hetepheres II, which was part of Djedefre's pyramid complex, was the first sphinx created. In 2004, evidence that Djedefre was responsible for the building of the Sphinx at Giza in the image of his father was reported by the French Egyptologist Vassil Dobrev. [18]

Due to the poor condition of Abu Rawash, only small traces of his mortuary complex have been found. Only the rough ground plan of his mud brick mortuary temple was able to be traced—with some difficulty—"in the usual place on the east face of the pyramid." [19] His pyramid causeway proved to run from north to south rather than the more conventional east to west, while no valley temple has been found. [19]

Related Research Articles

Khufu Fourth Dynasty ancient Egyptian pharaoh

Khufu, known to the Greeks as Cheops, was an ancient Egyptian monarch who was the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, in the first half of the Old Kingdom period. Khufu succeeded his father Sneferu as king. He is generally accepted as having commissioned the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but many other aspects of his reign are poorly documented.

Khafra ancient Egyptian pharaoh of 4th dynasty

Khafra was an ancient Egyptian king (pharaoh) of the 4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom. He was the son of Khufu and the throne successor of Djedefre. According to the ancient historian Manetho, Khafra was followed by king Bikheris, but according to archaeological evidence he was instead followed by king Menkaure. Khafra was the builder of the second largest pyramid of Giza. The view held by modern Egyptology at large continues to be that the Great Sphinx was built in approximately 2500 BC for Khafra. Not much is known about Khafra, except from the historical reports of Herodotus, writing 2,000 years after his life, who describes him as a cruel and heretical ruler who kept the Egyptian temples closed after Khufu had sealed them.

Userkaf Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh

Userkaf was an Egyptian pharaoh, founder of the Fifth Dynasty, who reigned for seven to eight years in the early 25th century BC. He belonged, in all probability, to a branch of the Fourth Dynasty royal family, although his parentage remains uncertain and the identity of his queen is in doubt. Userkaf may have been the son of Khentkaus I marrying Neferhetepes. He had at least one daughter and very probably a son who succeeded him as pharaoh Sahure.

Giza pyramid complex archaeological site on the Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt

The Giza pyramid complex, also called the Giza Necropolis, is the site on the Giza Plateau in Egypt that includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with their associated pyramid complexes and the Great Sphinx of Giza. All were built during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The site also includes several cemeteries and the remains of a workers' village.

Pyramid of Djedefre Smooth-sided pyramid

The Pyramid of Djedefre consists today mostly of ruins located at Abu Rawash in Egypt. It is Egypt's northern most pyramid, and is believed to have been built by Djedefre, son and successor to king Khufu. Though some Egyptologists in the last few decades have suggested otherwise, recent excavations at Abu Rawash carried out by Dr. Michael Baud of the Louvre Museum in Paris suggest the pyramid was in fact never finished. If completed, however, it is suggested to have been about the same size as the Pyramid of Menkaure — the third largest of the Giza pyramids. It is believed to have originally been the most beautiful of the pyramids, with an exterior of polished, imported granite, limestone and crowned with a large pyramidion. It is also believed for this reason the completed pyramid was largely deconstructed by the Roman Empire to build their own construction projects after the conquest of Egypt under Roman Emperor Augustus. The pyramid's ancient name was "Djedefre's Starry Sky".

Ankhhaf Egyptian prince and vizier

Prince Ankhhaf was an Egyptian prince and served as vizier and overseer of works to the Pharaoh Khufu, who was Ankhhaf's half-brother. He lived during Egypt's 4th Dynasty.

Meritites I was an ancient Egyptian queen of the 4th dynasty. Her name means "Beloved of her Father". Several of her titles are known from a stela found at Giza. She was buried in the middle Queen’s Pyramid in Giza.

Djedefhor or Hordjedef was a noble Egyptian of the 4th dynasty. He was the son of Khufu and his name means "Enduring Like Horus".

Khentetka or Khentetenka was a Queen of Egypt; the wife of King Djedefre during the 4th dynasty.

Meresankh II ancient Egyptian queen consort

Meresankh II was a Queen of Egypt who lived during 4th dynasty.

Djaty I was a prince who lived in the ancient Egypt during the 4th dynasty. He was an overseer of a royal expedition.

Pyramid G1-c building in Egypt

G1-c is one of the subsidiary pyramids of the Giza East Field of the Giza Necropolis immediately to the eastern side of the Great Pyramid of Giza, built during the Fourth dynasty of Egypt. It is the southern of the three pyramids of the queens and is the one of Queen Henutsen. It is 46.25 metres wide and had a height of 29.60 metres. A niche, four inches deep was dug in the south wall of the burial chamber. Pyramid G 1c was originally not a part of Khufu's pyramid complex, as its southern side is aligned not with the side of the Great Pyramid, but with Khufukhaf I's mastaba tomb nearby. Pyramid G 1c was at some point thought to possibly be a satellite pyramid, because it did not come with a boat pit like pyramids G 1a and G 1b. It was later determined to be an unfinished pyramid however which was constructed in a hurry. Henutsen is thought to have been buried in the tomb. Dr. Rainer Stadelmann believes Khufukhaf is the same person as Khafra and the pyramid was built by him for his mother, but this identification is doubtful.

Bikheris Egyptian pharaoh

Bikheris is the Hellenized name of an Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who may have ruled during the 4th Dynasty around 2570 BC. Next to nothing is known about this ruler and some Egyptologists even believe him to be fictitious.

Unfinished Northern Pyramid of Zawyet El Aryan smooth-sided pyramid

The Unfinished Northern Pyramid of Zawyet El Aryan, also known as Pyramid of Baka and Pyramid of Bikheris is the term archaeologists and Egyptologists use to describe a large shaft part of an unfinished pyramid at Zawyet El Aryan in Egypt. It is dated by mainstream scholars to the early or the mid-4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. The pyramid owner is not known for certain and most Egyptologists, such as Miroslav Verner, think it should be a king known under his hellenized name, Bikheris, perhaps from the Egyptian Baka. On the contrary, Wolfgang Helck and other egyptologists doubt this attribution.


  1. Kim Ryholt: The political Situation in Egypt during the second intermediate Period: c. 1800 - 1550 B.C., Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen 1997, ISBN   87-7289-421-0; William Gillian Waddell: Manetho (The Loeb classical Library)
  2. Alan B. Lloyd: Herodotus, book II.
  3. The riddle of the Spinx
  4. 1 2 Dodson & Hilton, p.55
  5. Dodson & Hilton, p.59
  6. 1 2 Dodson & Hilton, p.58
  7. Dodson & Hilton, pp.56, 58
  8. 1 2 3 Dodson & Hilton, p.61
  9. Miroslav Verner, Archaeological Remarks on the 4th and 5th Dynasty Chronology, Archiv Orientální, Volume 69: 2001, p.375
  10. 1 2 Verner, p.375
  11. Dieter Arnold, MDAIK 37 (1981), p.28
  12. M. Verner, Baugraffiti der Ptahscepses-Mastaba, Praha 1992. p.184
  13. Verner, p.376
  14. Michel Vallogia, Études sur l'Ancien Empire et la nécropole de Saqqara (Fs Lauer) 1997. p.418
  15. Vallogia, op. cit., p.418
  16. 1 2 Verner, p.377
  17. 1 2 Clayton, pp.50-51
  18. Riddle of the Sphinx
  19. 1 2 Clayton, p.50